Houston Rockets 2016-2017 Season Recap: Trevor Ariza

Jan 10, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza (1) passes the ball forward on the fast break against the Charlotte Hornets during the first quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 10, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza (1) passes the ball forward on the fast break against the Charlotte Hornets during the first quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports /

Jan 10, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza (1) passes the ball forward on the fast break against the Charlotte Hornets during the first quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

Trevor Ariza was solid on both ends of the court all season long. However, his leadership proved to be more valuable for the Houston Rockets.

The Houston Rockets had several players make big headlines this season. Cue James Harden conducting the symphony of offense. Add play makers Eric Gordon and Lou Williams providing the firepower off the bench. In addition to that deadly trio is another headache to be dealt with. Please welcome the raging bull that is Patrick Beverley to the party.

Seems like a handful already. But there’s more still to come. Also tagging along is long range expert Ryan Anderson and low post specialist Nene. While the players mentioned above are tough as it is, there’s still one important piece missing. Probably the guy least likely to make the morning headlines.

While Trevor Ariza is expected to guard the opposition’s best player night in and night out, he thrives in other roles equally as important. For the Houston Rockets, he is a leader and a man who doesn’t attract attention. In addition to being a defensive specialist, he can get hot from 3 point land also. His overall numbers were solid. 11.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game on 41% shooting, 34% from 3 point range.

With what he brings on defense, Ariza doesn’t have to be electric on offense. Rather, just be consistent and hold the opponent’s top player in check. Due to the high flying offense under Mike D’Antoni, a wing defender who can shoot is great to have. Most notably, “Switchblade” has championship experience that is valuable to the Houston Rockets.

Let’s take a look at Trev’s impact this season.

Next: Overall Impact

Jan 23, 2017; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Tony Snell (21) tries to hold onto the ball while under pressure from Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza (1) in the first quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

While he struggled at times on offense, his ability on defense still helped the Houston Rockets win.

Ariza isn’t the flashiest player around. And that’s fine. Because of his will and determination he refused to go down without a fight. That’s why he is important. The Houston Rockets demand a lot on Ariza while playing defense. But you won’t hear him complain.

As a team, the Rockets ranked 18th in defensive rating. While that’s an improvement over last season, 26th overall, it’s not elite level yet. With Ariza, the team is better defensively. His 1.8 steals per game ranked 6th in the NBA during the regular season. As a result, Ariza amassed a total of 147 steals.

As previously mentioned, Ariza had a down year shooting the 3 ball. He shot 34% this season, as compared to 37% last season. While he didn’t shoot lights out, he still has the ability to get hot at any time. We’ll take a look at some of his best performances on the next slide. When Ariza is efficient, the Houston Rockets are a tougher team to beat.

Perhaps the most underrated aspect of Ariza is how great of a teammate he is. He’s also great at giving James Harden a nickname. Seriously, “Bearded Picasso” is as genius as it gets.  But back to being a great teammate. In a piece for The Players’ Tribune, Ariza discussed why he believes Harden is the MVP. Harden summed up how he felt to the Houston Chronicle.

"“He showed me he wrote it. I read it. I felt it in my heart, honestly. It’s one of the best things somebody’s ever done for me. And I didn’t even know. I didn’t know he was going to write it. He just showed me.”"

What a guy Trevor Ariza is.

Next: Best/Worst Moments

May 7, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza (1) makes a three point basket during the first quarter against the San Antonio Spurs in game four of the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Ariza came up big this postseason and provided the Houston Rockets some of his best performances.

Best Moment: 23 points in blowout win vs Spurs in the second round of the playoffs.

While it’s disappointing the Houston Rockets lost the series against the San Antonio Spurs, there were some great moments in the series. Like in Game 1 of the West-Semis when Ariza went for 23 points while hitting 5 3’s and shooting 50% from the field.

Ariza displayed his toughness and will to win in this spectacular victory while doing a good job of defending Kawhi Leonard.

Worst Moment: Fooling the home fans with a supposed 3 point make against the Atlanta Hawks in February.

This shot had me fooled at home. It was a 3 point game with just under 15 seconds left. Since the Rockets were running out of time Ariza let it fly. Things didn’t go as planned.

Mistakes happen right? Even I jumped off my seat at home.

Next: Areas of Improvement for 2017-2018

Jan 6, 2017; Orlando, FL, USA; Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza (1) looks on against the Orlando Magic during the second quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

While still effective on defense, Ariza can still improve his 3-point shooting for the Houston Rockets.

Probably the one thing fans are hoping for is the Trevor Ariza that shot nearly 40% from 3 point land in Washington a few seasons ago. While being Houston’s primary defender is his top priority, it doesn’t hurt to have Ariza’s scoring when possible either. When Ariza is aggressive on both ends, the Rockets are tougher to beat.

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In addition to improving from 3-point range, Ariza can also improve from the free throw line. While shooting 73.8% at the line isn’t bad, it isn’t great either. A shooter like Ariza should be able to improve his percentage. Shooting better at the line could also help him on a bad night offensively. Nothing like seeing the ball go through the net to boost confidence.

Since Ariza is under contract for the next two seasons, the Houston Rockets have a piece that is hard to find out on the open market. Another lengthy defender that can shoot doesn’t come around often. Finally, Trevor Ariza is among the best teammates and provides great leadership.

His balance on offense and defense makes him a great fit for this group. The Houston Rockets should be happy to have such a class act and overall hardworking professional who brings it and leaves it all on the court.

*Stats via Basketball-Reference*

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